Technology is being utilized with increasing frequency in healthcare as providers struggle to serve their patients during the coronavirus outbreak nationwide.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the United States, overwhelming some healthcare systems and posing a similar risk to other healthcare systems throughout the country. To help alleviate some of the pressure, more and more providers have been utilizing technologies that were often only on the periphery before. Virtual care is growing in multiples and is likely to continue its growth as the response to the virus evolves.
Healthcare IT services professional Don Baham with Kraft Technology Group shares his insights into the changes in healthcare and technology is helping.
How Technology is Helping Healthcare Address the Coronavirus
The use of certain technologies in healthcare has increased dramatically in recent months.
According to one account from the CIO of Geisinger Health, their organization has seen a 500% increase in the use of telehealth services recently. That kind of increase is quite remarkable and probably only happens during a true crisis like the one occurring right now with COVID-19. And this increase is only the beginning. The pandemic is expected to hit every state in the country in a dramatic way, which will lead to further adoption of tools like telehealth to meet the needs of patients and providers alike.
Self-triaging tools are being incorporated in many areas.
One of the big challenges with the coronavirus outbreak is determining who needs in-person medical care and who should just stay at home and wait it out. Medical care centers only have so much capacity. That capacity needs to be reserved for those most in need, so doctors are doing their best to screen patients before they ever set foot in the hospital. Self-triage tools are helping them accomplish this goal.
These self-triage tools ask a series of questions to determine if the patient is likely to have coronavirus or another condition with similar symptoms, such as a cold or flu. If the self-triage tool determines that the patient may have coronavirus, it puts them in a queue for a virtual visit with a doctor. The demand for virtual visits has skyrocketed, leading to wait times of a day or more for patients to see a professional remotely. If these tools were not utilized, it is easy to see how virtual consultations – much less in-person consultations – would be impossibly overwhelmed almost immediately.
Remote patient monitoring is being encouraged.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a way for healthcare providers to monitor the condition of those with coronavirus who are staying at home. It is important to monitor these patients to make sure they are ok at home and not in need of urgent medical care. While RPM has not seen as widespread use and rapid adoption as telehealth services, it is an area where providers are hoping to ramp up in response to the crisis.
Not every technology tool is met with equal enthusiasm.
Some of the self-triage tools created by major tech firms to meet the needs of healthcare providers during the coronavirus pandemic have come under intense scrutiny – particularly the one offered by Google. While the online triage tool the company created could prove to be helpful in the long run, there are major concerns over how it handles the privacy of patients. Patient privacy is a major part of healthcare laws and must be carefully managed – even by the biggest tech giants in the world – if the best interests of patients are prioritized. Hopefully, Google will do what is necessary to help patients without compromising their data.